Tonight was another act of the continuing RV drama. The protagonist is former Mayor Butch Brown, a regular in Natchez dramas. Seems he wants to build an "high end" RV park on Canal Street between two hotels. Opposed to him are most of the people who live in the downtown area, especially those who live on South Union Street. Currently, RV parks are not allowed in Natchez.
In Act I, it looked like our leading man was getting his way, since the Planning Commission voted to allow RV parks in districts zoned as B-2 and sent this recommendation to the Board of Aldermen.
In Act II, they started to play volleyball, since the Board sent it right back to the Planning Commission - for further study.
In Act III, scene 1, the Planning Commission met in a study session that they call a Workshop. This scene lasted two hours, and they came up with a question. Does Natchez want any RV parks, and if so, where?
In Act III, scene 2, which took place tonight, the Planning Commission met for a public hearing to answer their question. The public was there with their petitions and their speeches against the RV park on Canal Street. No one from the public addressed the question, so the Commission discussed it themselves. Their conclusion? They couldn't answer the question without having a definition of RV park. So Act III, scene 2 will have to be continued next month.
Personally, I think the answer is easy. Do we want RV parks? Of course. This is a huge market, and we would be stupid to continue to totally prohibit them. (If you want to know how huge, check out this.) RVers are either retired or on vacation and have disposable income - otherwise they couldn't afford to put gas in those things. Natchez needs these people to come spend their money here.
Where do we put them? In either B2 or B4 - it really doesn't matter, because they fit in logically with uses allowed in both. The key is that they be allowed only as Special Exception Uses. Our zoning code allows certain uses by right and others by special exception only. The latter category is for uses that might impact the surrounding neighborhood or the city. Public hearings are required before the Planning Commission and the Board of Alderman, and special conditions may be imposed. That means we can decide on a case by case basis whether we want a particular RV park.
If RV parks were allowed as special exceptions in B-2 zones, then Butch Brown would have to first go through extensive hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of Aldermen. All of his plans would have to be approved, and either body would have the right to impose any conditions they wanted. Based on the organized effort I saw tonight, Butch would have about the same chance as a snowball in hell.
It's important that the zoning issue of RV parks be dealt with separately and independently from Butch's proposal. Don't kill all RV parks just because we don't want one on Canal Street. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.